Police Arrest Researcher Who Showed E-Voting Machines Are Not Secure
from the this-is-concerning dept
A few months back, a research report came out noting that e-voting machines in India were not secure. I had seen it at the time, but considering how many stories we've seen of e-voting machines with security problems, I let it pass and didn't write it up. However, the story has just taken a distressing turn. One of the researchers, Hari Prasad, who had obtained the e-voting machine from an anonymous source in the first place, has been arrested and taken into custody because he will not reveal who gave him the machine:
The police did not state a specific charge at the time of the arrest, but it appears to be a politically motivated attempt to uncover our anonymous source. The arresting officers told Hari that they were under "pressure [from] the top," and that he would be left alone if he would reveal the source's identity.
Prasad was taken from his home and driven to Mumbai, a 14-hour journey, where he is to be interrogated. Alex Halderman, who has done lots of research on e-voting machines over the years, and worked with Prasad on the research on the Indian e-voting machine was able to speak to him while he was being driven to Mumbai. Prasad worries that his arrest will create serious chilling effects on other security researchers, and plans to stand up to authorities to hopefully prevent such chilling effects from occurring. You can listen to excerpts from the call in the following YouTube video:
The initial post, written by Halderman, also gives plenty of background on the machines. The Indian government has refused to let researcher review the machine, and insists that it's tamper-proof. Even after the initial report came out proving this not to be the case, the government has continued to insist the machines are fine and have no problems. Here in the US, it's quite troubling how much the government has relied on e-voting machines without allowing security researchers to really test them, but at least they don't arrest those who have been able to access and test the machines. This is a hugely troubling move by the Indian government, and hopefully getting more attention on such a questionable arrest will make the Indian government regret this decision -- and open up the machines for real security testing.